THE Fisheries department under the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Forestry, Fisheries and Biosecurity (MALFFB), has launched its first fisheries policy at the Tagabe Agriculture station in Port Vila.
Fisheries Minister Matai Seremiah said that where the Fisheries Sector is today was the result of past planning, and where the sector will be in future and the result of the policy vision.
“Ninety nine per cent of Vanuatu is ocean and is home to one of the region’s largest fish stock – Albacore tuna for which annual catch is estimated at 8,000 tonnes per year. With other tuna resources, our production estimate lies in the range of 10,000 to 20,000 metric tonnes of fish per year.
It is even more than this when deep bottom fish, reef fish and other reef and freshwater resources and other resource we are yet to explore is added,” he said.
“Our people depend on these resources for food and income and the country depend on revenue from resource rent and from exports. During natural disaster as we witness recently, when other land resources are affected, fish provides healthy food and income for our people and it is important that we continue to enjoy these benefits into the future.”
Minister Seremiah reflected on some of the development challenges this sector has faced in the last 35 years during his speech and the need to have a policy in place to monitor consumption and economic activities through developments to make sure these marine resources benefits can be enjoyed in the future.
“We are currently facing shortage of fish to feed our growing population and the increasing number of tourist visiting our islands. We must increase production of our own fish and circulate money within our local economy,” he said.
“Aquaculture is a potential area but infrastructure support was not there and we did not enjoy the economic benefit from this development area, but we are improving now and we hope to further grow this sector.”
The minister said the National Fisheries Sector Policy is the policy roadmap and this policy will guide operations in the sector for the next fifteen years.
“The National Fisheries Sector Policy builds on the long-term development strategy of the National Sustainable Development Plan 2016 to 2030 and the overarching productive sector policy and the Agritourism policy,” he said.
“On the regional level, this policy heeds on the regional and international policies and treaties including the MSG roadmap on coastal fisheries; the FFA regional MCS strategy; the Noumea strategy on coastal fisheries; the Pacific Regional Roadmap on Fisheries 2010, and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
This collective policy is the culmination of our national planning in the Fisheries and Aquaculture sector.
“Our vision in the policy is to transform fisheries in Vanuatu. Our goal is to increase production, people’s incomes, food security, and nutritional status of all Ni-Vanuatu.”
“I take this opportunity to acknowledge all my director for fisheries and his staff including our former policy manager, Jason Raubani who is now with SPC, for their time and great contribution to the development of this policy,” he said.
It was with pride that Director of Fisheries Kalo Pakoa said this policy was a homegrown policy since it was put together by his staff within the department, the FFA and SPC.
“This policy give directions for the next five years on areas such as importation of seafood-making sure these seafood products are of quality, develop the fisheries sector, open investments door for partners and donors and improve economic and health for the people of Vanuatu,” he said.
“The Fisheries department staff have also a new set of uniform to prevent continuous confusion over the specific work of our staff, many think we are the ones who go out on boats and throw the hook but today we have a uniform to show where we work and what we are actually doing to improve fisheries in our country.”
Mr Pakoa said that the Fisheries department is the last department under the MALFFB to launch its policy, after the other four departments.